The Instigator
Con (against)
8 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
6 Points

In a democratic society felons ought to retain the right to vote

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/14/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,239 times Debate No: 5984
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)




Because in LD Aff gets the first speech I will allow Affirmative to start.

The structure of this will be as follows...

Aff starts
Neg Case and rebuttal
Aff rebuttal
Neg rebuttal and conclusion
Aff Conclusion


As this is to be a Values debate I ask that it be judged objectivly based on who presented better arguments. Also who's criterion came out to be superior and best fulfilled the Core Value that came out superior.(sorry this is a bad explanation)

I ask only one thing and that is some experience with LD style debate(essentially how it works and the structure)

Thanks in Advance to My opponent and everybody else who reads and follows this debate


Alright... your on... I'm a varsity LD debator and this is the case that i just ran... fri/sat of this week.... It has a few holes... but I still like it.

My value for today's debate shall be that of Democracy. A democratic system is one which, according to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, refers very generally to a method of group decision making characterized by a kind of equality among the participants at an essential stage of the collective decision making. In essence this form of government is intended to focus on the majority of citizens. When government is run by the majority of citizens, policies favor the many, not the few. When government is run by a few individuals, policies favor the few – the rich or elite, and ignore the rest of society. Only rule by the entire population can preserve freedom and equality because these values benefit the most citizens, while ruling elites are rarely concerned about freedom and equality for the average citizen.

My criterion for today's debate shall be that of individual rights. The point and purpose of democracy is to protect the people. A democracy hinges upon the assumption that each individual within the society is entitled to certain rights and privileges. Without individual rights a democracy simply cannot exist. To negate this resolution is to advocate for the disenfranchisement of a certain segment of the populace. To ignore the rights of this segment of the populace is to ignore an intrinsic part of democracy, thus harming the democratic process. Therefore I affirm this resolution; felons ought to have the right to vote within a democratic society.

Contention 1, Felon disenfranchisement laws do not help the process of rehabilitating felons and re-integrating them back into society after prison.
Subpoint A) The denying of felons the right to vote ultimately causes these felons to lose an important sense of community. It is saying to these people that their thoughts and opinions no longer matter to society because of past mistakes. This sends a negative message to these citizens. The governor of Florida has a similar opinion. He states that, "Giving a person a meaningful way to re-enter society, make a living and participate in our democracy will incentivize good behavior."
Subpoint B) A very important question that needs to be asked is why does society punish criminals? According to Merriam Websters Dictionary, as stated earlier, punishment is meant for the purposes of reformation and prevention of crimes? How does the disenfranchisement of felons increase their desire to reform? It doesn't. In fact it has exactly the opposite effect. Labeling an individual a second class citizen will ultimately harm the rehabilitation process. Kevin Krajick of the Washington Post agrees stating, QUOTE "To condemn millions to eternal political silence is to stab our democracy in the heart, and to provide cause for bitterness and alienation. Felons may face many other disabilities: They cannot sit on juries, serve as teachers, firefighters or -- often -- even barbers or plumbers. They cannot receive food stamps or live in public housing. Add to all this the knowledge that whatever they do, no matter how much they have changed, their voices will never be heard in the public arena." END Quote He goes on to say, QUOTE "Voting is not a privilege; it is the basic right that defines a citizen. Those denied it are, in effect, stateless -- people without a country. This is not a partisan issue, but one of basic human rights. People who have paid their debt to society should have their rights restored." END QUOTE

Contention 2: The disenfranchisement of felons ultimately harms democracy.
Subpoint A) To deny an individual his or her right to vote, regardless of how others may view them, violates the very premise of democracy. A democracy is something which has a main focus of the concept of equality. To disenfranchise a certain group is create a vacuum. That segment of the populace deserves a voice. They have opinions and their opinions should be heard. When a society denies a felon the right to vote they are silencing that individual. They are silencing quite a large segment of the populace. In doing this, the society spreads inequality, and this goes against everything that democracy stands for.

Which me to my Subpoint B), when felons are disenfranchised, they are forced to follow without being involved in the decision making process. In essence it is taxation without representation all over again. Matt Welch, Editor-in-Chief at Reason magazine, said "The combined [felon voting] laws have created the democratic world's largest pool of adult citizens living under a system of taxation without representation." This is simply unacceptable. These individuals are being brought subject to gross injustices that ought not be there in the so-called land of the free.

To close I shall use the words of Justice Earl Warren a former member of the United States supreme court who presided over the Reynolds v. Sims case in which he stated that, "… history has seen a continuing expansion of the scope of the right of suffrage in this country. The right to vote freely for the candidate of one's choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government."
Debate Round No. 1


I Would like to thank my opponent and am glad to have an LDer to debate on this topic.

CV: Justice: For this I give the Platonic definition of-- giving each person his or her due

VC: Social Contract
The Social contact is a mutual agreement between the Government and the governed instituted to protect the rights of individuals in society. In exchange for the protection of Natural right the governed must accept restrictions of certain rights and must assume certain duties. When a society follows and preserves the social contract justice is created. When a society moves away from or abandons its social contract man shall right man, protecting the rights of none and creating no justice. This is relevant to the resolution because the idea of democracy is based on the social contract

1st –Social Contract

A. Locke believed that the violation of the social contract negated the contract between the parties and entered them in a sort of state of war in which no rights were preserved. One of the things required of the governed in to uphold the laws and regulations put in place by society, So in this resolution the felons violated the social contract by not upholding the laws of Society so they are essentially allowing for the violation of their own rights and removal from society because, humans, being rational beings, made a conscious choice to not uphold the duties given to them by the government acknowledge that the government is not obligated to protect those rights. As said by philosopher Emmanuel Kant" if a man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on" So By violating the Contact felons have essentially removed themselves from society and therefore must be considered as non-citizens to that society. Non-Citizens do not have the right to vote in a foreign country and that is how Felons ought to be treated. They are equal to non-citizens in that regard because just as the felons removed themselves from society non-citizens have not entered into the social contract.

B. By allowing Felons to we would not only be giving them all of the rights of law-abiding citizens but would be elevating them above them by saying, even though you violated the contract you are equal to everybody else. By doing this you are creating a double standard by which those who violate the social contract are on level with those who have not which is plainly unjust.

2nd – Impact on society
Under the social contract a government is only as strong as its people so in a government were many of the people have shown a lack of Judgment is not a strong government, so by eliminating those from voting you are creating a stronger government. Felons, because they have broken the social contract show bad judgment in society In cases of small local election felons could have a massive negative impact on elections. The effect of this is apparent in small communities where felons may represent a majority. In these communities you get a sort of Trojan horse effect, the Greeks entered troy and destroyed it from the inside out and so would felons destroy these communities. Also Felons who have committed Voter Fraud or Insurrection show a blatant disregard for society so should not participate in governmental decision-making. If we allow even those who have actively worked to destroy society to decide how that society is run we will destroy that society.

I will move to my opponents Case.
CV: My Opponents Stated core value of democracy is inferior to my core value of justice for one main reason. Now as can be seen the resolution specifies a democracy, However the goal of EVERY democratic society is Justice and the reason a society is democratic is because it believes it is the most just for of government.

VC: the Social contract is more valid in today's debate because the only for for a society to thrive or even exist in under a social contract. Individual rights would not exist without a Social contract. So in other words my opponents criterion is irrelevant without first adopting a social contract.

Contention 1
A) You must keep in mind that these felons have knowingly violated the social contract and have in essence removed themselves from society. They have then shown a blatant disregard for the state and should not participate in deciding the laws for the law-abiding. This bring me back to my Contention 1 Subpoint A, If you allow the law makers to become the law breakers then you are creating an unequal stage and are devaluing the vote of the law-abiding citizens.

B) the idea of rehabilitation is seen to be inherently flawed as it is. I would like to point out that 47% of single time offenders commit another offense within three years and the recidivism numbers continue to grow as per number of arrests to 82%. Second of all the right to vote, if it is deemed to be so important by my opponent does not mean much to felons. Only 5% of felons are actually registered to vote. Also since Felons are consciously committing a crime and a possible punishment for that crime is disenfranchisement it will then act as a deterrent to crime because they will know they will lose the right to vote.

Contention 2
A) As I have said earlier not only are we creating inequality by allowing them to vote we are devaluing the voice of the law abiding citizen. Allow me to explain, if we allow felons to move against society then create the laws for that society we are creating a double standard and essentially elevating felons above the law abiding populace. Second, if we allow felons to vote we are giving them equal voice to non-felons and are then putting those who have followed the laws on the same levels as felons. This is plainly not equal and not just.

B) My opponent brings to the table the taxation without representation idea in this point. However in the case of felons this can be seen as incorrect. They still can send their children to public schools, the police or firefighters must still come to their help. if we did not tax felons we would be essentially either making them above everybody else by allowing them to have certain services for free that everybody else must pay for.

Thank you once again


Mkay… here is my rebuttal

As a brief roadmap I will first go over my own case, defend it… and then move on to attacking my opponents case.

I have a value of Democracy, and my opponent chose to attack it by stating that "the goal of every democratic society is justice. The goal of a democratic society is nothing more than to maintain democracy. Nowhere in the resolution does it say that this theoretical democracy is a "just" democracy. A democracy may strive for injustice if it so chooses. While this may not be the most ethical road, it is nonetheless a road which a democratic society may take. My opponents argument is truly non- topical to the resolution because it is based off of a very flimsy assumption.

My opponent then moved on to attack my criterion by basically stating that the social contract must be present in order for individual rights to exist... however once again this theory fails. According to John Locke's theory of the social contract, the social contract only exists to insure the safety of its citizens. If there is no social contract present the individuals within the society fall into a "war of all against all" in which all rights are taken. Including the right to rape, murder, and steal. The very point of the social contract is to limit individual rights and ensure that certain rights are protected in order to maintain societal stability. Secondly… my opponent fails to truly address the points made by my criterion. Individual rights must be protected and even my opponent's criterion supports this theory. Therefore the denying of the right to vote ultimately creates a system which hurts the overall concept of democracy.

Against my contention 1 he states that these individual's have broken the social contract and thus have exited themselves from society. These individuals may have committed crimes, however they

He moves on to state several facts which deal with the rates of recidivism. This is once again non-topical. Not only does he not state where these nebulous facts come from… he fails to say where these facts are taking place. They could be taking place in Uzbekistan for all know. However if we are to assume that these facts originated from the US my opponent has now demonstrated the uselessness of disenfranchisement. The United States has made it common policy to disenfranchise its felons. This simply is unacceptable. No tangible benefit can be found within this practice, and my opponents facts help solidify this point.

Against my contention 2 my opponent says that we are DEVALUING a law-abiding individual's vote. He says that we are elevating a felon's vote above these good people… but the last time I checked…. One vote was one vote regardless of where it came from. Then my opponent goes on to contradict himself by saying that the vote of a felon is equal to that of a non-felon. This makes absolutely no sense. The denying of felons the right to vote ultimately harms the equality within the society and thus harms the very core of democracy.

He goes on to list the benefits of society that felons enjoy. They have the use of public schools, firefighters, etc… but this misses the entire point of the subpoint. They have no REPRESENTATION. These individuals are forced to pay the same taxes that all other individuals within the society must pay and not only are they denied many job opportunities and public services, they are also denied that most basic and fundamental right of representation within their government. This cause alone was enough to drive the framers to take up arms against England and become felons themselves. Felons ought to have the right to vote. They deserve it just as much as anyone does.

Moving on to my opponent's case.

My opponent holds the value of justice in which he defines as giving each his due. This value may be an important and lofty goal but it doesn't relate to anything my opponent has said. Nowhere within my opponent's case does he use this concept. It falls due to the sole fact that there is no reason for it to be there. The value is meant to be the grounding point for the entire case and yet my opponent fails to relate it, even in the slightest way, to his case.

I shall group my opponents Criterion and first contention together as they both hinge upon the concept of the social contract. The social contract is something which is important and it is true that felons have broken the social contract, however we are taking about the concept of disenfranchisement. It is true that these individuals have harmed society however it is the duty and obligation of the government to uphold the social contract as well. If it takes actions which harm the overall society by causing an increase in crime, as I proved in contention 1, as well as harming the ideal of democracy, which I proved in contention 2, there can be only one option. Felons ought to have the right to vote.

Against my opponents subpoint b, which states that the act of giving a felon the right to vote elevates them above the law-abiding citizens within that society. This train of logic fails due to its inability to take into account that felons do not have the same rights as a law abiding citizen. My opponent would like to conveniently ignore the fact that felons have lost their right to bear arms, their right to equal treatment, etc, etc… this is a lifelong loss. The right to vote is something which is intrinsically different from other punishments. It serves no tangible benefit, and it even harms the rehabilitation process which leads to more crime.

My opponent's second contention deals with how the eliminating those of poor judgment from the voting pool makes the government stronger. This line of thought is the exact opposite of a democracy. Then he moves on to explain a "Trojan horse" effect. As though felons are an invading army bent on the destruction of the society. This is simply ludicrous. These are citizens of the society, not an invading army. My opponent would like us to believe that they are weakening the voting pool, but this is only within my opponents view. From that sort of thinking comes the slippery slope which ends in a dictatorships. If the majority of people within a democracy believe a certain way, then that should be the way. Plain and simple, this is the basis of democracy. The majority of the citizens should be the ones who decide the policies within that society.

And with that, I leave the floor to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2


And Here is my rebuttal and conclusion.

I will refute my opponents points and then defend my own.

CV: My opponent calls the core value of justice non-topical and contends the goal of democracy is to maintain democracy not create justice. However, the reason for democracy once again is justice. Saying that Democracy=Democracy is a circular argument. Why is a Government a democracy? Because they seek to create justice, saying the goal of democracy is democracy is once again a Logical Fallacy in which the premise is only true if the conclusion is and vise-versa.

VC: Now as I can read it, the first attack on my criterion states "the very point of the social contract is to limit individual rights and ensure that certain rights are protected in order to maintain societal stability." This is exactly the point I am trying to make, in order to preserve the society we must limit some rights. My opponent also contends that " If there is no social contract present the individuals within the society fall into a "war of all against all" in which all rights are taken." So as is agreed without a social contract society will fail. Felons have violated and voided the social contract between them and to allow them to vote would move against the social contract. Moving against and changing the terms of the contract for a select group would then destroy it and would cause this "state of war" so therefore we must not allow felons to vote. Second social contract does indeed support the concept of rights, this is infact of the reasons for its implementation, if we lose a social contract we lose all rights. Therefore we must preserve the Social Contract and allow these felons to be disenfranchised. So my Criterion must be seen as superior because in order to have individual rights we must have a Social contract. So in this debate we must evaluate of of the social contract.

1st: I am not quite sure of the defense of subpoint A as it appears to have been cut off. So I will merely restate my original attacks. "A) You must keep in mind that these felons have knowingly violated the social contract and have in essence removed themselves from society. They have then shown a blatant disregard for the state and should not participate in deciding the laws for the law-abiding. This bring me back to my Contention 1 Subpoint A, If you allow the law makers to become the law breakers then you are creating an unequal stage and are devaluing the vote of the law-abiding citizens."

B) The idea proposed by my attack was that a punishment cannot be evaluated off of its rehabilitative effects because no punishment is seen to have rehabilitative effects. So if we were to evaluate everything off of its rehabilitative effects we would stop any form of criminal justice which, undoubtedly would destroy society. So it must be assumed that rehabilitation is not relevant

2nd: The idea of a devaluing a vote was mis interpreted by my opponent which may have been my fault. What I am contending is that by allowing felons to vote we are putting allowing them to be the law-makers and the law-breakers. It would be establishing a double standard in which the Law-abiding populace is put below the felons because felons have violated the social contract and can STILL vote while non-felons did not take advantage of society and have the same right to vote. This if you look at it is not just and not equal.

The fact that felons cannot get the same jobs is wholly there fault. By committing a felony they removed themselves from society. Also there are cases of people who have been able to do things such as join the police and the military without voting rights(here is an example- Besides if you look to my first contention I say felons are equal to not citizens and non-citizens have to pay taxes... Allowing non-citizens to vote would also inevitably destroy society.

Moving on to defend my case
CV: now first you remember I say that justice is created when a society preserves its social contract and in doing so preserves society. Also this term was defined as giving each his due and felons must be given thier due. Also I fully understand justice is the core of my case. Justice is what everything hopes to achieve, including the justice system and democracy.

VC(and 1c subpoint A): Now in his attacks my opponent agrees that felons have violated the social contract. And As I say in my 1st contention A) the Social contract does allow for disenfranchisement and B) allowing them to vote would be unjust because it elevates them. Also the idea of just punishment as proposed by the Affirmative can be discarded. The Prison system itself does not rehabilitate felons thus the recidivism. So disenfranchisement cannot be judged based on its rehabilitative value but rather on whether is is warranted by the social contract which I have proven it is.

1c B) in this my opponent brings up the concept of equal treatment and how felons are to be denied it so we should not disenfranchise them. First felons choose to commit a felony and second, the right to vote can be put into the idea of equal treatment. Also the point about gun's. Now I will directly link this to felons who have committed voter fraud, just as one who has committed Murder should not own a gun or a pedophile can't serve as a teacher why should one convicted of voter fraud be able to vote? the answer is they shouldn't. SO because felons move against society and essentially say they don't think the rules apply to them why should they be granted the right to vote and make laws for others?? this seems pretty unequal and directly supports my original point.

2nd contention. The Affirmative contends that if the majority says something it is so. well first of all the felons do not represent a national majority, and second in a case where they do represent a majority why should they be able to decide the lives of the law abiding and essentially override their vote in this propose Majority rule system in which the felons dictate the Policy of the others?

Conclusion and Voters
I have proven the Social contract to be superior because in order to have individual rights, my opponents criterion we must have the social contract. I have also proven justice to be the most applicable because it is the goal of every society to create justice. Also my criterion best upholds democracy because without a Social contract there will be no democracy just anarchy.

My Contention 1
---This contention proves the social contract indeed allows for disenfranchisement and so proves the Negative case.

The idea about Voter fraud/voting
As my opponent stated felons should not own guns because they violated the right to have them, So felons convicted of voter fraud should not voe because they, above ALL other felons abused that privilege Now if you look at the resolution it says that "In a democratic society felons ought to retain the right to vote" This implies ALL felons and those convicted of voter fraud are felons, they have violated the right to vote and therefore must have that right removed. Therefore Negation is in order.

I ask that all my points be considered not just these singled out those are just some specific points I would like looked at.

Because Social contract is the best criterion and it fulfills both core values and because felon disenfranchisement is warranted under the social contract I can see no other ballot besides one in favor of negation.


brmdsloop forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Metz 9 years ago
It cold yes.... That is a good neg argument. Aff must prove that felons must keep the right not regain it
Posted by kei1261 9 years ago
This is a most interesting debate. One question: Can it be argued that the social contract renews itself upon a felon being branded as such? In other words, when one submits himself to designation as a "felon", does he not implicitly abide by the social contract by placing himself in a far less desirable position than those who are not felons?
Posted by Metz 9 years ago
What doesn't??? I debated this topic this Saturday and need to work on Neg...
Posted by Darth_Grievous_42 9 years ago
That doesn'y seem fair to you, con.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Metz 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by KeithKroeger91 9 years ago
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